News & Politics

Supreme Court Gives Republicans Another Tool to Rig Elections with Voter Purge Decision

Low election participation rates is just what the GOP wants.

Photo Credit: CBS News (via YouTube)

The Supreme Court dealt yet another blow to voting rights on Monday, this time giving states the go-ahead to purge their voter rolls, a practice that disproportionately targets Democratic-leaning populations and in particular people of color:

The case hinged on interpretation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a 1993 civil rights law intended to increase voter registration and participation. But in recent years, some conservative activists began using certain provisions of the law to force states to more aggressively purge their rolls. Those provisions govern what’s known as “list maintenance,” and their stated purpose is to remove people who have moved or passed away. But election officials instead sometimes use list maintenance to remove eligible voters—particularly poor ones and people of color—because they haven’t voted frequently enough. [...]

The court’s 5-4 decision is likely to resurrect an era that the NVRA was meant to end. The practice of purging voters dates back more than 100 years. Just as today, it was justified as a necessary tool to thwart fraud and maintain the integrity of elections. But in practice, it was often used to suppress the votes of those who might not support the party in power. The result of the aggressive purges was that Americans participated in elections at a far lower rate than citizens of other Western democracies.

And low election participation rates is just what Republicans want—so Republican-controlled states will doubtless take this anti-democratic Supreme Court decision and run with it, giving Republicans yet another advantage in an increasingly rigged system.

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Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.